A Day in the Life of a Paramedic

Paramedic job description

Paramedics are autonomous clinicians who work within the wider multi-disciplinary team to assess, manage, and treat a range of patient presentations, predominantly in the community.

Paramedics provide emergency medical care to those critically injured or unwell, but much of the role involves dynamic problem solving in less urgent circumstances e.g., navigating complex psychosocial issues which impact the lives of patients.

It is a diverse and dynamic profession, paramedics also play an important role in health promotion and education, empowering patients to make informed decisions about their health and care.

What would a typical day look like for a Paramedic?

Though ‘not all Paramedics wear green’ or work in an emergency setting, their unique knowledge, skillset, and professional identity aids them in adapting to challenging situations, where conflict and uncertainty abound. 

Typically, Paramedics working with ambulance service trusts tend to work shift patterns which may include 12 hours shifts, days, nights, weekends, and public holidays. Working alongside other clinicians of varying experience and scope of practice, paramedics will attend to the varying needs of patients in the community, in a variety of challenging environments. Trauma, death, birth, exacerbation of chronic conditions, mental health, or psychological challenges and often a combination of the above. Paramedics work closely with a variety of other health professionals, as well as other emergency services, to provide appropriate care, advice, and treatment for patients. 

Where patients require conveyance to hospital for further assessment or treatment, paramedics provide ongoing assessment, monitoring and treatment to patients where appropriate, before ‘handing over’ care to the receiving facility – completing accurate and comprehensive documentation of each patient contact. 

Often, it is appropriate for patients to remain at home with the support of their general practitioner (GP), pharmacist, or other community-based practitioner and in these circumstances, paramedics act as a clinical signpost to provide ‘worsening’ advice, health guidance and alternative treatment and assessment options.

Where could I work? / What is the career progression like for a Paramedic?

Paramedics now work in a variety of settings. These include, though not limited to: 

Ambulance Service Trusts, Education, and training, Primary and Urgent Care, Critical Care, Accident & Emergency departments, GP surgeries and services, Telephone triage, Prison services, Off-shore medical care, research and quality improvement. 

For information regards career options, progression, working as a Newly Qualified Paramedic (NQP) and to discover more about roles in Paramedicine, access this College of Paramedics resource.

What would my starting salary be?

Depending on the role and employer, rates and salary may vary. 

Graduate Paramedics, or Newly Qualified Paramedics (NQP), working within an ambulance service would expect to start on Band 5, progressing to Band 6 after two years. Please see NHS agenda for change pay scales for further details.

What hours would I be working?

Those undertaking full time employment contracts within ambulance services can expect to work an average of 37.5 hours per week. These include days, nights, weekends, and public holidays. Details regards shift patterns should be discussed with the employer. 

Are there more specialised roles for a Paramedic?

Experience and engagement with additional qualifications and training, Paramedics can progress into a variety of specialist roles such as Primary/Urgent care, Critical Care or Training and Education.

A Specialist in Primary/Urgent care is a unique role, utilising enhanced patient assessment and access to additional treatments or medications, often working closely or within General Practices. These Paramedics can provide an enhanced level of care in the community, supporting patients with immediate and long-term complaints and conditions. 

Critical Care Paramedics also possess skills in enhanced patient assessment and are adept leaders and problem solvers. Potentially working within Helicopter/Air Ambulance services, these clinicians provide rapid care and treatment to life threatening emergencies. 

Paramedics require a wealth of knowledge, training, and practice experience to deliver safe and effective care to the patients they meet and treat. The transition of capable and motivated individuals into competent, autonomous clinicians requires substantial guidance and training from those delivering Paramedic Science programmes. With their own experience, knowledge and expertise, Paramedics from a variety of backgrounds can work within training and education to support the ‘next generation’ of clinicians, further driving the profession toward innovation and quality improvement. 

Do I need a degree to be a Paramedic?

Paramedic is a recognised profession with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This registration allows an individual to work as a Paramedic in the United Kingdom (UK). Following HCPC consultation in 2021, the threshold level for registration as a paramedic was changed to bachelor's degree (with honours).

•    HCPC – Paramedic registration threshold 
•    HCPC - standards of proficiency 

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